St. Louis Expands Number of Homeless Shelter Beds for Winter

One of the tents where people lived during the winter of 2018. - DOYLE MURPHY
One of the tents where people lived during the winter of 2018.

After a chaotic winter in 2018, the city has expanded the availability of beds in a network of homeless shelters.

In years past, the city has added emergency beds during the coldest nights and worst conditions. The threshold was twenty degrees or colder on dry nights and 25 degrees if there was snow or freezing rain. That left plenty of dangerously cold winter nights when people were scrambling to find a warm place to sleep.

Churches filled the gap by opening their halls and meeting spaces to crowds of people who couldn't get into a city shelter bed.

This year, the city and its nonprofit partners are offering a larger number of beds for the worst three months of winter, regardless of the temperature or other conditions. Sunday was the first night of the shift to "continuous shelter," which will run through the end of February.

Outside of those three months, the city had raised the threshold to 32 degrees for part of October and all of November and March.

"Caring for the most vulnerable populations in the city takes enormous time and effort, but we can always use the community's help," Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a news release in October when the changes were first announced. "If you see someone or know someone who needs to be in a shelter this winter, please call 211 or 911 to be connected with the City’s Continuum of Care.”

Krewson spokesman Jacob Long said in an email on Sunday that the city expects to have more than 1,000 beds open each night through winter.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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